Imagine a situation where a young woman overhears a conversation about a serious crime committed by a local gang boss and his henchmen. Alarmed, and assured that her details will be kept private, she reports the hearsay evidence contained in the conversation to the police, thoroughly documenting, to the best of her sincere ability, the details of that conversation. The police investigate and discover that, not only what the woman reported was corroborated by real world evidence and credible first hand witnesses, but in the routine course of their investigation they uncover many more crimes against the gang boss than the woman originally heard about. The investigation includes interrogations of witnesses conducted in private to ensure the uncorrupted purity of each account. At length, when the police determine that there is sufficient forensic and witness testimony necessary to constitute a reasonable assurance of conviction, the evidence is turned over to the district attorney for routine prosecution.
The judge, whose job it is to hear the case, has some procedural problems with it. Chief among his problems is that, despite the fact that the police have a mountain of evidence against the gang boss, the judge feels that the gang boss’ Constitutional rights are being violated because he (the gang boss) will never get an opportunity to confront the young woman who reported the original crime in the first place. It matters not at all to the judge that the woman’s privacy, and hence her safety, would be compromised should her identity be revealed. It matters not at all that far better witnesses than the woman, who was at best a second hand witness anyway, have come forward. The judge feels the defendant’s Constitutional right to confront all witnesses against him is being violated by the girl’s absence. And yet, the judge doesn’t seem to care that not even all the good witnesses will be used, but only a cross section of them, as there are so many. No, he wants the woman, the original whistleblower, if you will, to testify. Nothing less will do. Not only that, the judge objects to the fact that the original witnesses were interviewed in private, and he infers from that — entirely without evidence — that something shady and underhanded must be going on from the very law enforcement body he is sworn to represent and uphold.
On these “merits” the judge proclaims he will refuse to hear evidence against the gang boss. He will refuse to read the transcripts of the testimonies of the witnesses against the gang boss. He will refuse to hear live and credible and first hand testimony against the gang boss. Why? All because the identity of the original hearsay witness will not be included in the proceedings.
Sound ridiculous? Welcome to the world of Lindsey Graham. Such is the “logic” Senator Graham uses to justify his refusal to participate in a trial against Donald Trump in the Senate once the House of Representatives decides to impeach him. Graham insists that the law be ignored and the original whistleblower’s identity – an identity that is protected by law, by the way – be revealed to the world. Why? Ostensibly so that Donald Trump can confront him or her publicly. That’s the ostensible reason. The real reason is because Lindsey Graham wants to put the whistleblower’s life in peril in order to send a message to anyone who should ever again dare to try to take down Donald Trump: Trump is off limits, and he should be free to commit all the crimes he wants.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: Lindsey Graham is not a stupid man. He knows exactly how preposterous his reprehensible excuses for abrogating his duties are. The whole absurd thing is packaged and presented with the cynical calculation and hypocrisy of a man who is deliberately appeasing an audience of one. This is Lindsey Graham’s whistleblower dog whistle, if you will, to his lord and master Donald Trump.
This is what the Republican Party has sunk to, a party that began its life with Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was a man for whom virtue and integrity were immutable conditions of the human spirit, not false badges to be meted out as favors of privilege to insiders belonging to the correct party and members of the preferred race. Graham also knows that his objections are far too subtle for Trump’s base of drooling monotooths to see past. They will snap their heads back and swallow it whole and untasted like the glassy-eyed lizards of conformity that they are. Again, and for your consideration, this is what the Republican Party has sunk to.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.